MATRIXSYNTH: Search results for Con Brio ADS

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Showing posts sorted by date for query Con Brio ADS. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Functional and Audio Demos of the Ultra Rare Con Brio ADS 200R Synthesizer

Those of you who have been coming to the site over the years should be familiar with the ultra rare Con Brio ADS. There was a keyboard version and a remote, or rather desktop, version. They are identical in function and sound. There is only one known ADS 200R in existance and that is it in the videos above (and farther below). Note the placeholder image is the ADS 200 keyboard version but you will see the videos feature the 200R. Brian Kehew wrote in to let us know he is working on a website that will cover the history of this rare synth. He also made the set of functional and audio demos. Above are the functional demos and farther below are the audio demos. You will find video titles and descriptions for each video in the playlistbelow, but before that, here's what Brian had to say:

"I've been making a website for the Con Brio synth history. Will be ready in a few more months. But meanwhile I've uploaded some video of how the thing worked. Primitive now, especially to younger musicians. But for anyone who lived through the days of floppy discs and early digital synthesis will see how advanced the Con Brio's design was.

We still don't know much about the workings, as all known manuals are gone, and the designers can't recall everything of how it did work. Here are some simple explanations and demonstrations of the main functions.

It's also a true 16-bit synthesizer, which was rare and expensive at the time. It also used an iron output transformer (like good studio consoles) which somehow also helps it sound (in my opinion) better than the Fairlight, DKS and Synclavier designs.

The two instruments I had are now at the EMEAPP Archive Project in PA, they may be able to make better headway figuring out more of the system and it's operations..."

Be sure to see the Con Brio label for various bits of info that have come in over the years. Also see the exclusive label for the rare of the rare in the synth world.

Playlist: 1. Con Brio Synthesizer Instructional #1: Loading the O.S. and Light Show
This is the basic beginning, to load an Operating System for the Con Brio synthesizer from an 8" floppy disc. First, the Light Show disc is used, then the standard OS disc that allows for music synthesis.
2. Con Brio Synthesizer Instructional #2; Panel lights show relevance.
One of the most-brilliant and unique aspects of the Con Brio design is the implementation of panel lights; they guide you to work much faster and more accurately.
3. Con Brio Synthesizer Instructional #3: Loading Sounds onto the keyboard zones.
Finding sounds on the 8" floppy disc directories, and then assigning them to the two keyboards in various combinations.
4. Con Brio Synthesizer Instructional #4 - Speed of Disc Access
One of the notable aspects of the Con Brio systems is a custom-written code to make disc access practically instantaneous. This demonstration shows the rapid access speed when loading from the floppy drive.
Further demonstration of loading sounds from disc and sequences to play them.
Con Brio Synthesizer Instructional #5 - Basic Loading 6. Con Brio Synthesizer Instruction #6 - Ensemble
Loading and using the Ensemble feature; the Con Brio could store a combination of sounds, layers, outputs, and sequences - and then save the whole set as an "Ensemble" preset - which loads nearly instantaneously.
7. Con Brio Synthesizer Instruction #7 - Loading and Stacking
Bringing in two sounds and layering them together.
8. Con Brio Synthesizers #8 - String Sequence with Tempo change
Basic Tempo control of a string sequence with the panel Tempo knob.
9. Con Brio Synthesizer Instructional #9 - Tuning and Synthesis modes experiment
As none of the Con Brio Owner's Manuals survived, it's very difficult to understand how they were supposed to operate. With a little guidance and help from the inventors, some methods produce results. This video is an experiment with saved alternate Tuning Tables and the Synthesis modes.

1 Con Brio Audio Demo One
A really nice wide-ranging set of sounds, changing across time, yet just a beginning demonstration of what the instrument could have done with more time and exploration.
2 Con Brio - String Section
Some string section sounds, very detailed and shimmering timbres.
3 Con Brio - Pipe Organ
Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition using a basic pipe organ program.
4 Con Brio - Wine Glasses
Digital synthesizers excel at this kind of crystalline ringing sound.
5 Con Brio - Sound 67
Playback of a sound with glitching, jittery elements; a fairly complex layered tone with some noise components, too.
6 Custom Con Brio Sounds
These tones are quite ahead of their time for 1980, and still sound quite modern. Easy enough to do them today, but back then, these were exceptional tones.
7 Random Number demo
Very similar to the randomness of a Sample/Hold on an analog synthesizer, but quickly becomes more layered and deep, a complexity that would take many analog synths to generate.
Con Brio Synthesizers #8 - String Sequence with Tempo change
Basic Tempo control of a string sequence with the panel Tempo knob.
9 Con Brio - Clear and Bright sequence
Demonstrates the sharp and detailed sound of these instruments.
10 Con Brio - Short Latin sequence
Just as the title suggests...
11 Con Brio - Dramatic
Dramatix, suspenseful set of sounds.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

ConBrio ADS100 and Crumar GDS synthesizer brochures

Note: Auction links are affiliate links for which the site may be compensated.

via this auction

"Two vintage digital synthesizer brochures. Just the Brochures. ConBrio ADS 100 and the Crumar GDS General Development System. Both brochures have punch holes, no writing, no missing pages, no highlights, no stains, no stamp. Very rare."

See the Con Brio label below for more.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Complete Guide to Synthesizer by Devarahi Including the Con Brio ADS 200, Buchla Touche, Emu Audity, Aries and SMS Modular Systems & More

Note: Auction links are affiliate links for which the site may be compensated.

via this auction

"The Complete Guide to Synthesizers by Devarahi. Covers many legendary, vintage, analog and digital synthesizers. Arp 2600 sections. Many pics and diagrams."

Some synths featured inside:

Aries Keyboard System III
SMS Modular Synthesizer
Moog System 55
Fairlight C.M.I.
Con Brio ADS 200 Digital Command Console
Crumar / DKI GD ?
Emu Audity
Buchla Touche

Sunday, June 04, 2017

SYNTH EVOLUTION - Illustrations of Classic Synthesizers

"SYNTH EVOLUTION is a new business specialising in illustrations of classic synthesizers, from the earliest Moog and Buchla systems of the early 1960s, right up to the introduction of the first analogue modelling synths of the early 1990s.

Every synth manufactured during that time has been covered - from the big names of Moog, Roland and Yamaha to the more esoteric products from RMI, Wersi and Powertran. Between them, all these synthesizers - and more importantly, the musicians who use them, have transformed music of the last 50 years bringing previously undreamt of sounds and styles to musical culture.

The first range of products from SYNTH EVOLUTION are stylish white ceramic mugs emblazoned with illustrations of these mighty instruments. There is a selection to browse from on the website, but any synth from a list of over 270 can be requested!

Note that currently only synthesizers are available - drum machines, samplers and more recent instruments are in the pipeline, as are other products.

Delivery worldwide.


Moog Modular 3C (1967)

Buy now

The Moog Modular Synthesizer 3C (1967) was one of Robert Moog's earliest instruments and formed the basis of what was to become the world's largest modular synthesizer 'TONTO'. Created by Malcolm Cecil, 'The Original New Timbral Orchestra’ eventually comprised two Moog Modular 3C's as well as many other modules from other manufacturers.

Arp 2600 (1971)

Buy now

The Arp 2600 was created in 1971 by Alan R. Pearlman and has been a classic ever since. Notable users are too numerous to list in full, but include Stevie Wonder, Jean-Michel Jarre, Orbital, Rick Wakeman and Nine Inch Nails. It was also used to create R2D2's bleeps and bloops in Star Wars.

Yamaha CS-80 (1977)

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The polyphonic Yamaha CS-80 is synonymous with the lush chord sound of Vangelos - such as the opening sequence of Bladerunner.

Released in 1977, it's eight note polyphony was a revelation, but it's 90kg weight meant some serious weight training was required to own one.

Con Brio ADS 200 (1980)

Buy now

The Con Brio Advanced Digital Synthesizer (ADS) 200 was an extraordinary synthesizer released in 1980 costing over $20,000. Based on additive synthesis, FM, phase modulation and some other esoteric sound generation methods it had 64 note polyphony and 16 oscillators per note.

Quite a beast, and a splendid looking one too - perfect for a retro-futuristic mug of tea!

SYNTH EVOLUTION is the brainchild of Oli Freke, a composer and musician who’s had a lifelong passion for the synthesizer. He has previously supported the Human League on tour, run a dance music label, performed live house and techno in clubs and festivals, performed Brazilian drumming at the world famous Glastonbury festival and composed music for television. Find out more at"

Monday, September 08, 2014

Gallery of Misfits - The Con Brio ADS 200R, Electronic Sackbut, EMS Polysynthi & Datanomics Datasynth

via noyzelab

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vintage CON BRIO Vintage digital synthesizer brochure

Note: Auction links are affiliate links for which the site may be compensated.

via this auction

Here's something you don't see every day.

"One of the more rare and interesting synthesizers is the CON BRIO ADS-100 and attempted to steal some of the market from Synclavier, Fairlight and Con Brio. This is the brochure and spec sheet for the single prototype which never sold. This in in great shape. I have more vintage synthesizer stuff going up on auction, so check out my other listings, including more Moog panels. Thanks!"

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Analogue Synthesizer Drum Machine Decoupage Vintage Retro Coffee Table

Note: Auction links are affiliate links for which the site may be compensated.

via this auction

Con Brio ADS in there.

Thursday, December 08, 2011


via this auction

"vintage CON BRIO 'ADVANCED DIGITAL SYNTHESIZER' brochure from 1980 AES show 2 page foldout on the ADS 100 and an insert of the 2nd generation ADS200"

If you aren't familiar with the Con Brio ADS, see the Con Brio label below.

Monday, April 20, 2009


flickr by Kiel Bryant

full size

"VintageTech electric organ/synthesizer looks to be on loan from a Tatooine Cantina -- or Captain Kirk's garage band."

That would be the Con Brio ADS200. Click on the Con Brio label below for more.

Update via Kiel in the comments: "Here's what Sellam (VintageTech president) gave me about it: 'That's the famous Con Brio ADS-200, a way-ahead-of-its-time synthesizer produced in the late 1970s/early 1980s. It was a project by 4 gard students at CalTech. They turned it into a company but since they were all engineers it failed pretty quickly, and only a couple of these were made. This is one of only two known to exist.

It was exhibited at the last VCF, along with the ADS-200R (the portable version). We got the ADS-200R working again recently, thanks in part to one of the original designers who lives in San Jose.

Both belong to Brian Kehew, and this one has been in my warehouse for a while as I'm trying to restore it for him (needs a new disk drive and a few electronic connectors fixed).' "

Update via Sellam in the comments: "I'm not sure what Brian has done to document our restoration progress online, but I'm sure at some point there will be ample web space devoted to these synths.

This is what I currently know (some details might be a little off):

1) Details about the ADS-200 in Kiel's photo can be found on the Con Brio Wikipedia page1b) According to the above link, it was THREE CalTech grad students, not four ;)

2) The 200R model is a portable version of the 200 pictured above. Brian Kehew scored it from Don Lieberman a couple years back. Don (one of the original of the three CalTech grads) had it in his workshop and was just about to throw it out when Brian made contact. Brian brought it up from San Jose to my warehouse, we plugged it in, and it came right up. It was actually in nearly flawless condition. We were able to get it mostly functional using the system disks from the 200 model above.

2b) We finally got it totally functional (well, 98%...) earlier this year. Don and Brian came up and we worked on it for half an afternoon and got the last problem solved (the keyboards). We played old samples stored on dusty old 8" floppy disks. The 2% that still needs to get functional is the video. The system disks we're using were coded for the 200, which uses a different video driver chip or something. We can boot the 200R using the same disks but the video is horizontally shifted and rolling. We can alleviate it by manipulating the video controls, but we don't get to see the whole screen. We get to see enough to load/edit/play samples, etc. Fixing this will be a matter of software, and that will take lots more work and hacking. Unless we can find an original system disk for the 200R.

3) The 200 model needs a new 8" floppy drive. Oddly, the one that it used is some rare CDC (Control Data Corporation) model for which I cannot find documentation. If anyone knows where to get documentation and a schematic for a CDC BR8A8 8" floppy disk then that would be fab. I tried substituting different 8" drives but none will work. Hmm...I just had a thought: maybe it's NOT the disk drive but rather the controller, or a cable. But anyway, can't say for sure until I know what the BR8A8 is equivalent to, or what's special about it, if anything.

4) As soon as the 200 is restored it will go back to Brian and he will do some magick with it. We (or at least I) hope to reprise the demo at the next VCF.

5) I video'd our restoration session as I thought it might be historically significant. It includes audio from the 200R. I'll get that digitized and up on YouTube as soon as someone invents a time machine so I can get more hours in the day. If someone wants to volunteer to do this then I'll be happy to get you a copy of the tape (Kiel?)"

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Con Brio ADS 200R Vintage Synthesizer

YouTube via therealretrosynth.

"Brian Kehew demoing the only Con Brio ADS 200R in existence at the Vintage Computer Festival at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California."

Update: if you remember in this prior post I noted that someone mentioned the Con Brio was not producing sounds on its own. Devo just left the following comment:
"Just wanted to clarify... The sound that was heard of the Con Brio at the VCFX this weekend WAS indeed coming from the synth itself. It is true that the synth isn't 100% functional (yet), but the parts that need to be made "whole" still, are the connection from the keyboards to the "brain" (mostly), which will be sorted out soon, hopefully. The sounds that were heard consisted of existing sequences on the original 8" floppys, coupled with existing sound-patches from the same orig. disks (of which, the OS is derived). BTW: the Con Brio sounds as good (or, dare I say, BETTER) than it looks. Awesome! I hope this info helps. Much kudos to all (past and present) involved! "

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Con Brio Rises!

via Brian Kehew of The MOOG Cookbook. Only two Conbrio ADS 200s were ever made. See the links in Brian's message below for more info on this rare digital synth from the past.

"Hi guys - this is a quickie announcement - we're rushing to prepare an exhibit for this year's annual (and final) "VINTAGE COMPUTER FAIR"!

Why? This Con Brio synthesizer I've had for a decade is finally going to make noise in public again. Just this week we heard it for the first time - maybe the first one of these has been used in 20+ years...

It's been a legendary beast - mostly because of how it looks (of course). But until this week, we didn't know it was really GOOD. As a slightly outside observer, it was truly amazing - the design and interface are superb - you can fly on this thing and work very quickly. They implemented the synthesis with some REALLY tricky methods, as well as writing their own disc drive code, things like that. It sounds like other digital synths of the era - but with much better fidelity, its basic tone is pretty great. I am now gonna try and reunite the designers (one of them is coming along for the show and may give a talk). I will probably soon do a detailed web page showing some of the clever ideas and history. ANd my goal is to lend it out to some people, who can take it for a month and do ONE piece on it - so I can make some kind of "ALL Con Brio" CD so people can finally hear it. I don't think it's ever been on a commercial record release...

The FAIR and the MUSEUM: Sat/Sun 10-6 pm!! Exhibits from 2-6pm!

So - if you're interested in coming by (Mountain View, CA) I'll be there with it. PLEASE pass on the info to your techie-geek friends who may also appreciate this or a roomfull (museum nearby) of vintage computers; Altair, Digital Equipment Corp., Timex, Commodore, early Apple, etc."

Update via Brian in the comments:
"Well, I would think so too, but that's not true exactly. The three guys who did the Con Brio are serious computer experts; the one seen at the show makes his living manufacturing THE fastest RAM you can buy today. He says the way the Con Brio works (which is not a microprocessor counting to create "oscillators") would still be hard on a typical modern computer. If it were done by a microprocessor running numbers, yes, a modern computer would have it beat, but the speed of the Com Brio lies in the "dumb logic" way the waveforms are done, which allows it to be driven a light-speed type rates - "doing the math" with a microprocessor is harder and takes more power. They were far ahead of their time and finding unique solutions to the problems they had.

You mention the comparison between the 16 oscillators and Bill's 136 - actually the Con Brio does run 16 oscillators on each voice/key; TIMES its sixteen voices, so this is actually 256 simultaneous "oscillators" running.

On the 6 different configurations on a DX7 being adequate for what sounds are needed; to do the simple Hammond organ patch with "all drawbars out" is impossible with that limited set - and that's just 8 sine waves, no overtones per harmonic: the 6-operator setup won't do it. There is capability there with so many configurations - and how it's used is up to the user. Same for the Minimoog - Moog engineers felt that more than 3 oscillators made very little difference in the sound. Serious modular synthesists would disagree.

Not to mention - analog hardware. ALL digi synths have it for output - and the choices made there by designers can drastically affect the tone of the output - otherwise all CD players would sound the same playing the same Pink Floyd record, and we know they don't! Yet another reason a Nord Modular doesn't sound like a Doepfer or Buchla... You "can do it" in software, but it will not sound the same."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Brian Kehew's Studio and The Con Brio ADS

Brian Kehew of The Moog Cookbook sent me this shot. Note the Con Brio ADS 200. Only two of these were ever made. Brian has the first of two that was made from parts of the first Con Brio, the ADS 100. You are looking at the first ADS 200 in that shot. Simply amazing.

(close) Con Brio
(middle) Alesis Fusion, Andromeda, CONN Electric Band, ARP String Ensemble, 360 Systems Keyboard, Chroma
(next) OB-Mx, Akai 612 sampler, Chamberlin 200
(last) Moog Voyager, Chamberlin M1

Thanks Brian!

Switched On Make Synthesizer Evolution Vintage Synthesizers Creating Sound Fundlementals of Synthesizer Programming Kraftwerk

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